an education in “artsy”

I went to the artsy movie theatre dressed in black, my hair bump-it high, wearing soft leather flats. I don’t do berets, but if I were the type to smoke, I’d have a pack of something spiced with ground cloves, something beatnik, or at the very least imported.

For dinner, I’d have ordered steak frites. But I’d only take a few bites, favoring my red tumbler of wine, followed by espresso, sweet and black, then I’d walk away in a boatneck top, with a canvas bag, fresh baguette sticking its neck out.

Instead, I was there with me, settled in my seat, ready for the journey back to 1961, when the film An Education is set. Nick Hornby adapted Lynn Barber’s memoir. Currently adapting my own memoir, I now know just how hard it is and am tragically impressed. So moved, in fact, that I should like to read the book for pleasure, while listening to the fantastic soundtrack, pecking at pots of sweet and black espresso. Only instead of black, I’d wear creams.

When our sparkle of a lead (Carey Mulligan) gets caught in a downpour with her cello, a man (Peter Sarsgaard), approximately ten years her senior, rescues her… cello. He offers it a ride, since proper young ladies themselves wouldn’t dare get into a car with a stranger. He is, after all, a patron of the arts, and wouldn’t want to see that cello of hers ruined. She agrees, allowing him to put her cello in the back seat of his car. It rains harder. He drives slowly, as she walks alongside this stranger, in his warm dry car, with her cello.

What a memorable start. One I remember dreaming would happen to me, alone in my room, her age, wanting to be taken seriously, certain I was already grown up. It wasn’t that I needed to prove it to my parents, for more responsibility and trust. I already had that. I was missing the sophisticated escapades to go with all my fanciful dreams. It was as if my adolescence was experienced as "going through the motions." I already felt grown up, an old soul, but the adult exploits were lacking. So I’d sit in my bedroom and dream of strangers who hadn’t yet become my lovers and friends.

The soundtrack of An Education is its own meal. It tastes like brie, a loose paddle full of it, smeared on crusty bread.Yes, it’s worth mentioning twice. It’s so lovely.

What I valued most about this film, aside from its score, is the way it sits with you. It’s a quiet film, but not sleepy. Aware. You’re always waiting for a shoe to drop, yet it’s still a lovely world to visit. Nightclubs and busty singers with velvet voices, champagne saucers, jewels and clothes, chic–Paris chic meets Oxford blues. It’s relatable; you’ll find yourself in it, whether you’re the prep who wants to learn and grow, or the flirt who wants to be adored, or if you’re like me, the type who wants it all.